Study Guide

Top Gun Music (Score)

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Music (Score)

If we had one word to describe Top Gun's score, it would be rad.

Anthemic Guitar Riffs

There are a lot of greats songs in Top Gun, and a lot of huge, mega hits. First, you've got the "Top Gun Anthem," composed by Harold Faltermeyer. Legendary rock guitarist Steve Stevens handled guitar duties on this one. The anthem starts out with some typical 80's synth-drums, gradually builds, and then reaches a powerful, but contained plateau.

This song shows up at numerous points in the film. For example, near the end of the pep talk Viper gives Maverick shortly before Top Gun graduation, and just after Maverick saves the day (and while he's throwing Goose's dog tags into the ocean). The song is associated with flying—with F-14's going into battle, and with Maverick's big decisions (opting to graduate with his Top Gun class, making peace with Goose's death). Like the film in which it appeared, the "Top Gun Anthem" was immensely successful, winning a Grammy in 1987 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone" (written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock) is another recurring song in the film. It is by far the most rocking tune in the movie, and that's the way director Tony Scott wanted it. He conceived of Top Gun as a sort of rock-and-roll film, which also explains the inclusion of Cheap Trick's "Mighty Wings" (written by Faltermeyer and Mark Spiro).

"Danger Zone" gets our blood pumping and makes a point about flying an F-14 for the Navy: you're heading into a danger zone. This big hit appears throughout the film, usually during scenes of great excitement (like the initial sequence, which is a montage of planes taking off and landing or shortly after Maverick and Goose learn they're going to Top Gun). Apparently the producers and co. liked Loggins so much they had him contribute another song to the soundtrack, "Playing With the Boys," which can be heard during the famous volleyball scene.

All 80s Movies Need a Power Ballad

The other mega-hit from Top Gun is, without question, Berlin's "Take my Breath Away" (also written by Moroder and Whitlock). Consider this Maverick and Charlie's song. We heard it toward the very end of the movie, and it signals that Charlie is coming back to Maverick. This song was a smash hit, winning both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987. Give it a listen. It still holds up.

In addition to these original songs, Top Gun breathed new life into a lot of great classics, such as the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" (the song that Maverick sings to Charlie when he first meets her, and the song she puts on the jukebox at the end when they rekindle the flame) and Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of a Bay" (playing during Maverick and Charlie's first date at Charlie's house).

To sum it all up, Top Gun has a little bit of everything. Powerful, 80's instrumentals (the main theme, and this cool little tune that's playing during the nightclub scene), original rockers ("Danger Zone," "Playin' With the Boys," and "Mighty Wings"), bombastic power ballad-love-songs ("Take my Breath Away"), and classic songs that hit you right in the heart ("Sittin' on the Dock of a Bay," "You've Lost that Loving Feeling").

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